On Saturday night the UFC brought the live finale of the American version of the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter to television once again on FX. Coach Roy Nelson battled late replacement fighter Matt Mitrione in the main event of the evening, while the co-main event featured the Welterweight finals of the reality show as Canada’s Mike Ricci took on Colton Smith. Let’s take a look at the main card fighters from both shows and see what’s next for each fighter.
Featherweight Bout: Dustin Poirier defeated Jonathan Brookins via Submission (D’arce Choke) in Round 1 – 4:15
This was a highly entertaining bout for the four minutes that it lasted. The two exchanged wild punches at the beginning and that might be a slight cause for concern for Poirier. However near the end of the round he dropped Brookins momentarily, and then stuffed a takedown and locked up the D’Arce Choke that eventually coaxed a tap out.
What’s next for Poirier? He reclaimed his place in the top ten in the Featherweight division after his loss to the Korean Zombie. He’ll need another top ten opponent and there is one that makes a lot of sense. Chad Mendes fought on the Australian show this weekend and absolutely plastered his late replacement opponent in the first round. A bout between these two is perfect.
What’s next for Brookins? He probably needs a slight step down in competition to get his feet back under him. He’s a talented grappler that showed improved striking before Poirier tagged him at the end of the first. I think a bout against Bart Palaszewski makes a lot of sense.
Heavyweight Bout: Pat Barry defeated Shane del Rosario via KO (Punches) in Round 2 – 0:26
Shane del Rosario controlled the tempo of the first round and actually came somewhat close to finishing the bout in the first. However, he got sloppy and tried for a choke without setting it up properly which allowed Barry to escape, showing an improved ground awareness. In the second del Rosario seemed to visibly slow and left himself open to the big right hand that ended the bout.
What’s next for Barry? He still has a lot of liabilities on the ground but he’s a great striker and every time he throws a leg or body kick it’s absolutely sickening to hear the thud. Todd Duffee and Phil de Fries have an upcoming bout later this month at UFC 155. The winner of that bout would be a good choice. Against Duffee it’s a striker vs. striker brawl, if its de Fries he’s going to have to show off how much his ground skills have actually improved.
What’s next for del Rosario? He hasn’t exactly looked like the world-beater and top prospect that he was billed as when he came over from Strikeforce. He’s probably closing in on his last chance in the UFC and there’s another fighter who is in a similar bout in Dave Herman. Once Herman is done his “marijuana rehab” this fight makes sense with the loser likely getting the axe.
Welterweight Bout: Colton Smith defeated Mike Ricci via Unanimous Decision to win The Ultimate Fighter
Despite Ricci being the more highly touted fighter heading into the show and being one of the early favorites, Smith apparently didn’t get the memo to lay down and die. He smothered Ricci for fourteen of the fifteen minutes and didn’t give him any room to get his offense off. In the last minute Ricci nearly scored the last minute submission upset, but it wasn’t meant to be and Smith took home a clear-cut decision victory.
What’s next for Smith? According to him he’s heading to 155 pounds, which is probably a better weight class for him, but it’s always tough heading into the shark tank that is the UFC’s Lightweight division. There’s no easy fights for him there and he’s only got a handful of professional fights under his bout. KJ Noons and Ryan Couture are fighting at what’s expected to be the final Strikeforce show ever, the winner of that bout would be a good test for Smith.
What’s next for Ricci? He has also indicated that he plans on making the drop to 155 pounds. Again this probably the best decision for him, but it’s going to be a tough place for him to fight. There are a number of smothering wrestlers at 155 and he’s going to have to prove that he can beat one of them if he wants to stay employed by the UFC. Danny Castillo and Paul Sass have an upcoming bout and both are known primarily as ground fighters. The loser of that match up is probably a good choice for Ricci’s next bout.
Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson defeated Matt Mitrione via TKO (Punches) in Round 1 – 2:58
What’s next for Nelson? He said after the fight that since his fight with Carwin has been called off due to injury multiple times, he’s not interested in setting that up again. Still, there’s some bad blood there and the fight makes sense. If they go a different direction Cheick Kongo turned down the late notice bout against Nelson, who had some choice words to say about it. With a full training camp there’s no reason for Kongo to say no this time.
What’s next for Mitrione? Hard to say, since he looked okay but this makes two straight losses for Mitrione. Mike Russow and Shawn Jordan have an upcoming bout in January and the loser of that bout would make sense for Mitrione to get some standing back in the division.